New governors often inherit their predecessors’ programs and initiatives — the good and the bad — when they take office. So it was when Gov. Janet Napolitano officially took the state’s helm in 2003. But at least one of those programs already had her stamp of approval.
Proposition 302, which provided funding for the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, other sports-related programs and authorized the creation of the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority, was passed by voters two years before Napolitano took office. She says it has been money well spent.
“The voters decided to spend the money on the stadium and I think it’s proven to be a good decision,” she says. “We’ve been able to attract a lot of different events to Arizona because of that new venue and the Super Bowl is a great way to showcase Arizona.”
Napolitano, along with Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs, then-bid committee chairman Gregg Holmes and retired ABC newscaster Hugh Downs, presented the bid to host Super Bowl XLII to National Football League team owners in 2003.
“They had already put together a good presentation. I just added my two cents worth as governor of the state that we were very supportive of the bid and we would do everything we could to support the Super Bowl,” she says.
The team’s efforts paid off, as did Prop. 302’s goal. And, Napolitano points out, other items funded by Prop. 302 have been successful as well.
“It’s not just the Super Bowl and the stadium, but the Cactus League venues, which are growing by leaps and bounds, the playing fields for young people and their teams, and all the other things that got wrapped into that funding for 302,” she says.
Short term, she says the Super Bowl will produce a lot of fun activities for the state and will generate an estimated $400 million in revenue. Long term, she expects the Super Bowl will generate interest among developers and investors to support Arizona.
“I’m hopeful that we can use this as an opportunity to show this state as a growing, vibrant economy,” Napolitano says. “A state that has a lot of things going on beyond sports and beyond some of the common stereotypes about Arizona.”
That includes construction, new laboratories, high-tech companies and medical schools, all of which she describes as the “foundation for our economy as we move forward.”
In 2008, Napolitano will focus on improving education, dealing with growth and transportation issues and protecting open space.
“We’re really looking to enrich, grow and diversify the economic performance here,” she says. “We’re going to have a good, fiscally sound budget that keeps investment where it needs to be, so that when we come out of the housing downturn, we haven’t cut off our nose to spite our face with respect to the state budget. Long term, the key thing is going to be education. None of this happens in terms of economic performance, generation of wealth … unless you have a sound education system underlying it, so we need to continue to keep our focus there.
“Being governor is a great honor. It’s the ability to try to set the agenda for the state — to try to enunciate our vision for this new Arizona we’re building and strategies on how to get there that are pragmatic and fit within our pocketbooks that keep us moving forward. I’m proud to say that I think we’ve done that over the past five years and we’re going to continue to.”
AZ Business Magazine Dec-Jan 2008 | Next: Pampered Pooches…